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Meet the THON 2014 Directors: Dylan Miller, Family Relations Director

With THON season in full swing, we conducted a series of interviews with each member of the THON 2014 Executive Committee in order to better connect the Penn State community with the leaders of the largest student run philanthropy in the world. This week features Family Relations Director Dylan Miller.

Dylan Miller, Family Relations Director

Current Year: 5th Year Senior

Major/Minor: Sociology

Fun Fact: I own more cutoff t-shirts than regular t-shirts.

Onward State: Why did you apply to be a part of the Executive Committee for THON 2014?

Dylan Miller: With all of my experiences — I started out at the Berks campus and I danced for them my freshman year and became overall for them my sophomore year, then I was a Morale Captain in 2012 and an FR Captain last year. Everything combined, and especially last year when I had the most unbelievable experience with the families and I really got to see the differences in the families. Thinking of that and thinking of ways to involve different types of families — looking at families that are on active treatment, the adult Four Diamonds families, and looking at the bereaved families and just looking at the differences between all of them really just inspired me to want to create different opportunities for them and different ways to get each kind of family involved. That’s one of my biggest goals and visions for this year, is to bring in the families that haven’t been involved as much and just give them the same opportunity as the other families.

OS: Summarize some of the responsibilities of the Family Relations committee, and then the role you play as Director within those responsibilities.

DM: The main duty of the Family Relations committee is to uphold the emotional side of THON’s mission, from every event all year long and even in between events all summer long, just bringing the families the emotional support they need. THON does a great job with financial support, so as FR, our job is to facilitate the emotional support within all of THON’s communities as well. Always upholding that and planning events for the families, whether it’s Harvest Day, which happens in the fall, THON Hoops, which happens in the spring, THON Soccer, which happens in the fall, and also the THON weekend events that all the kids and families look forward to, like the Wish Program, the Variety Show, the Fashion Show, the Captains In Training Program, just making sure that all of those events are for the kids and really centered on them and all about them as well as our whole committee all year long.

OS: What are you looking to change/do differently this year with your committee to help improve it?

Overall, I’m really looking to facilitate interaction among the Four Diamonds Families and all of THON’s captains and THON’s committee members, volunteers, and every level of THON. I really want to give them the family interaction that FR gets every year and give them the opportunities to create lifelong bonds with these families, because the families want that and volunteers want that as well. Specifically, I have little goals, like I really want to bring bereaved families back in. When a family loses their child, they feel disconnected from THON; they see all these families at THON events and they see kids having fun with THON volunteers and it causes them to miss their child more. I really want to create events and different occasions to bring those families back in. I’m also working to restructure the FR Captain committee and just give each Captain more of a centralized role within FR and for the families to make things easier on our end and also more convenient for the families.

OS: What moment or moments are you most looking forward to during this upcoming THON year? Be as specific or vague as you’d like.

DM: I’m really looking forward to Harvest Day and seeing a lot of the new families for the first time, and seeing them interact with not only the Executive Committee but also my Family Relations Captains for the first time this year. From that, I’m really looking forward to seeing the bonds formed between my captains and the families and to see that continue not just for the year, but for a lifetime. That’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to.

OS: Why do you THON?

DM: I don’t have one specific reason that I THON; I became involved in THON through my high school’s MiniTHON and actually helped start it after one of my best friends had a sister who was diagnosed with ALL and became a Four Diamonds Child. So I knew about THON before coming to Penn State and it definitely influenced my decision to come to Penn State. Every year, meeting more families and more volunteers continues to increase my passion and my dedication to this organization. I really just want to give all I can while I’m here for the families and for all of THON’s volunteers just to see THON grow so that one day we can see a cure.

OS: Name an event or two that you think will make this year’s line dance.

DM: I hope Miley Cyrus does NOT make the line dance, but I think the Fox song could definitely make it in.

OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

DM: I’d have to say a velociraptor, they’re just sneaky and come out of nowhere.

About the Author

Anna Ungar

Penn State Class of 2015 Visual Communications major, Onward State photographer, THON 2014 Public Relations Captain, Camp Kesem of Penn State Marketing & PR Coordinator, anglophile, lover of chocolate milk, bows, cats, The Office, photography, Morgan Freeman, and british accents. Orders a side of pickles with everything.


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